Posted March 2023
“…the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts.
The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to
include soils, waters, plants, animals, or collectively: the land."
– Aldo Leopold
Like Aldo Leopold, OWLT looks at the broader community to include the collective of all. As stated in our mission we aim "to protect and steward land and water for the benefit of all." The term "all" makes up the OWLT Conservation Community, including wildlife habitats, working lands, water resources, and the people within the region of our lands.
The vision of our organization is to assure that the natural state of the regional lands that we oversee are conserved, connected, and resilient for the benefit of all.
As members of this community, we recognize that the choices we make as individuals greatly impact the health of this collective ecosystem. Hence, why land conservation and stewardship are critical to our personal ethics as individuals, as well as members of the OWLT Conservation Community.
We invite you to read through our initiatives, as stated below, and join the Southeast Wisconsin OWLT Conservation Community. In this, you are sharing your commitment to act as a participant of a collective aiming “to protect and steward land and water for the benefit of all.”
We aim to support the collective ecosystem through:
To conserve means to protect the item from harm. Therefore, in short, land conservation means protecting and stewarding the land in a matter in which its natural state is not being damaged or destroyed, but restored and enhanced.
This can include:
Natural Landscapes – Conservation of natural landscapes and parcels that hold native ecosystems are of significant value to support the collective.
Agricultural Lands – One misconception of conservation is that it doesn’t support farming. The contrary is true. Agricultural conservation is a significant goal within OWLT’s strategic plan. The conservation agricultural ecosystem involves critical methods to support the benefit of all. These techniques include, but are not limited to, conservation tillage, contour farming, strip cropping, windbreaks, crop rotations, cover crops, and buffer strips.
Developed Property – Conservation can occur, as in the case of Forest Beach Migratory Preserve by converting developed properties back into a more natural greenspace.
Connections are a crucial component to secure the success of any community. As Aldo Leopold stated
“…the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, animals, or collectively: the land.” Hence, the connection of all the components with the regional ecosystem is a key goal to all of OWLT’s initiatives.
By supporting healthy ecosystems, we aim to protect and preserve the natural resources, water, air, soils, minerals, plants, and animals, on our lands. This is achieved through land management techniques that support healthy soil, improve water quality, provide wildlife habitats, and support community well-being.
Resilience is the ability to adapt to adversity and withstand challenges. Adapting to the adversity that’s already occurring requires planning to accommodate larger storms, periods of drought, and higher temperatures. Adaptation in managing land and water resources means increasing the resilience of plant and animal communities and designing infrastructure based on future conditions.
OWLT implements stewardship strategies that capture and store carbon, and consequently improve soil health, water quality, and natural habitat. These strategies also consider the role of short and long-term agriculture in resilience and habitat restoration.
Written by: By Leona S. Knobloch
OWLT is utilizing the Climate Resiliency Evaluation to implement the Climate Resiliency Project. This ongoing project incorporates multiple focused conservation efforts on several of the OWLT preserves.
Throughout the 2023 year, we will be reporting the status of the project to our partners, funding sources, and the OWLT community. Please stay tuned via OWLT communications on the progress of our efforts and to learn how you can help support this project by volunteering, engaging, and donating.
OWLT is pleased to have worked with key consultants and funding sources to work on this project. This includes Conservation Strategies Group and Habitat Restoration Partners. This article is funded in part by Land Trust Alliance, Fund for Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the terms and conditions of this Agreement.